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Indigenous Health: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Excerpt from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: "...LSHTM staff and students work on the health and rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world, and have worked with NGO Health Unlimited in raising the profile of the health and human rights of indigenous peoples. With supportinternationally, LSHTM and Health Unlimited have been collaborating in efforts to increase knowledge and understanding of indigenous people's health in developing countries.

The Lancet series has been written in the first year of the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, initiated after a First Decade which – even according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, achieved little. The High Commissioner noted in an evaluation of the Decade that its main objective, the adoption of a declaration of rights for Indigenous peoples, had not been achieved and that more needed to be done by the Member States and the international community to improve the rights of Indigenous peoples.
The LSHTM team, which is contributing a number of research papers and coordinated the series, is echoing the calls made by the Permanent Forum for more research and action to get Indigenous peoples’ health included into the MDGs, and for the issue to be placed high on the agenda at the UN’s MDG forthcoming conference in September.

Background: In a 2002 multilingual joint HU/LSHTM seminar at LSHTM we discussed case studies on indigenous health in India, Venezuela and Brazil, Peru and Cambodia. In a presentation from the World Health Organisation attention was drawn both to the very difficult health issues confronting indigenous peoples and the problems of securing action from governments and the international community to address them...In 2003: Utz´ Wach´il - Health and Wellbeing Among Indigenous People...An outcome of the seminar was an agreement that something should be done to draw wider attention to the issues which had been raised. Rather than present research results or descriptions of programmes, we decided to let indigenous peoples speak for themselves. The result was a pamphlet entitled Utz´ Wach´il: Health and well being among indigenous people published to mark the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2003. The pamphlet was a unique effort to bring together the voices of indigenous peoples from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to describe their own concept of health and well-being. Produced on a shoestring budget with voluntary support of LSHTM and HU staff and the collaboration of Health Unlimited's field staff, the booklet has been widely circulated and succeeded in bringing the attention of donors and academics to the health problems facing some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. A two day conference was held in 2004 to mark the end of the International Decade of Indigenous People, providing a unique opportunity for representatives of indigenous organisations and researchers engaged in work on indigenous health to discuss the issues. They shared their work with an audience of academics and professionals working in indigenous health including a number of representatives of indigenous people's organisations, and set out the prospects for the future. The workshop and meeting at the end of the conference have provided a sharper set of recommendations which build on the experience of indigenous people, the experience of those who have worked with indigenous communities, and the researchers who have analysed the underlying process at work.

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